When we talk about BJJ Gis, there can be a few technical terms thrown around. Enough that you can easily get confused by it all.
Weaves, GSM, pearl, gold, single double… Gi people will throw these words around proudly, but I guess you want to know what exactly they are bragging about.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how BJJ Gis are made, so you can make an informed decision when you look for your next Gi.
What Are BJJ Gis Made Of?
The Gi we use for BJJ is almost always made of cotton, either 100% or a blend that is still predominantly cotton.
While the material is the same as Gis in other martial arts (such as Karate and Judo), the manufacturing process is altered to produce the most suitable Gi for BJJ.
The Gi collar is usually made with vulcanized rubber, which is thick, strong and flexible as is necessary for Jiu-Jitsu. This type of rubber is stronger than normal rubber, allowing it to hold up almost forever through strenuous activity.
Gi pants are a little different from the jacket, often made from nylon-based ripstop fabric, though some are made from cotton too.
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Weave, GSM, etc… there are a couple of terms you need to know about when shopping for a BJJ Gi.
A Gi’s weave refers to the way it is stitched together and is the most common term used to differentiate between Gis.
Gi fabric is made by weaving cotton (or other materials) together in a square pattern. It’s like knitting, but a lot stronger, and better looking than the sweater you got for Christmas.
There are a few different styles of weave, and the style determines how much fabric is used in your Gi, how heavy it is, and how strong it is. From a distance, it looks all the same, but if you examine a Gi really closely you’ll see the pattern is different between different Gis. This is the style of weave.
The other term you’ll hear is GSM.
GSM is “Grams per Square Meter”. This is the weight of your Gi fabric. The actual weight is going to differ between sizes (obviously an A1 Gi will weigh less than an A4 Gi), so that’s why this form of measurement is used.
The majority of Gis are between 375 and 890 GSM. However, a lot more lightweight Gis are being produced these days, with higher quality weaves used to produce lighter Gis without sacrificing durability.
So now it’s common to see Gis that are 350 GSM, where 450 used to represent a fairly lightweight Gi. Anything under 350 GSM can be considered significantly lighter.
Common Gi Weaves
Here are the most popular styles of weave you’ll find.
Single weave is the most simple style of weave. It tends to make for lightweight and inexpensive Gis, due to less fabric being used. However, single weave Gis can be less durable than other styles of weave, and the thinner fabric makes it easier for opponents to grip and control.
Double weave is mostly the same style as the single weave. The difference is, as the name suggests, double weave is woven twice over. This means 2x the material, making for a stronger Gi, but a lot heavier. Double weave is generally more expensive than single as well.
It’s relatively uncommon to see double weave used for BJJ Gis these days. It’s more commonly used for Judo Gis, such as this Fuji Judo Gi, as Judo requires a stronger Gi to keep up with more intense grip work.
Gold weave is essentially the next step up from single and double weave in terms of manufacturing standards. Gold weave produces a Gi that is stronger than single, but lighter than double weave. As such, it’s been a competition staple for some time now.
Gold weave Gis have fallen out of popularity a bit in recent years, though, with pearl weave and other more advanced types used more often. The problem being gold weave, while lighter than double weave, is usually heavier than average by today’s standards. These Gis also tend to shrink quite a lot.
One of our favorite gold weave Gis is (ironically) this one from Gold BJJ. At 450 GSM, with 10oz pants, it’s light enough to allow ease of movement, while durable enough to last a long time as an everyday Gi.
Pearl weave is the most common to find right now, especially in lightweight Gis. They generally come in around 450-550 GSM, though a lot of manufacturers are making pearl weave Gis as light as 350 GSM, or even less.
Despite this, they are still durable, and hold their shape through constant punishment.
Due to the tight nature of this weave, they can tend to be rougher and more abrasive. This is one reason some still prefer old-school gold weave Gis. But many are okay with this and prefer pearl weave for its lightweight properties.
Pearl weave, unlike gold weave, does not shrink much. Most “preshrunk” Gis are pearl weave Gis.
An example of a high-quality pearl weave Gi is the Hayabusa Ultra Lightweight Gi. At just 350 GSM, it’s a perfect Gi for hot climates, or to give you an extra edge in competition.
There are a few different styles of weave you can get, though much less common than the ones above. Many Gi brands are making their own style of weave, in order to put out Gis that are event lighter than pearl weave.
One example is the Aeroweave Gi from Gold BJJ. This Gis about the lightest I’ve ever seen, at just 275 GSM.
Crystal weave is a soft, lightweight variant, which tends to be more loose-fitting than other Gi weaves. It also shrinks a bit, more than pearl weave.
Honeycomb has a cell-like appearance of ridges and hollows, and is quite light and airy.
You can also find Gi jackets made from ripstop fabric, which is most common to see in Gi pants. Ripstop is designed to stop tears from spreading due to conveniently placed stress points, and is very lightweight. It’s not as comfortable as traditional cotton weaves, however, and can stick to your body, requiring a lot of adjustments. Ripstop jackets generally aren’t legal in IBJJF, so you may want to consider something else for competition.
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The Best Type of Weave? Gold Weave vs Pearl Weave vs ???
What is the best weave to get? Well, “best” is hard to define, and thus this question doesn’t have a clear answer.
Gold and pearl weave have more advanced production methods than single and double weave, and thus are the most popular right now. There’s very little not to like about lightweight Gis, so, for this reason, a lot of people prefer pearl weave.
Some do prefer certain characteristics of gold weave Gis, or other weave styles like honeycomb or crystal. At the end of the day, it comes down to preference.
Next time you get a Gi, take note of what style of weave it is. If you like how the Gi feels and performs, seek out the same style in the future. If not, try another. It’s all about finding the Gi that fits you and your style the best.